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Nerds, Rabbits and a General Lack of Testosterone

R.W. Johnson: Major and Lamont, 9 December 1999

The Autobiography 
by John Major.
HarperCollins, 774 pp., £25, October 1999, 0 00 257004 1
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In Office 
by Norman Lamont.
Little, Brown, 567 pp., £20, October 1999, 0 316 64707 1
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... the country wants full integration with Europe or the alternative preferred by Conrad Black and Robert Conquest – joining the US, Canada and Mexico in Nafta. God knows what the answer would be but at least we will have been asked a real question. As it is, we have a quarrel between varieties of fudge, a settled determination not to let the electorate ...

Charmer

Sheila Fitzpatrick: Stalin’s Origins, 1 November 2007

Young Stalin 
by Simon Sebag Montefiore.
Weidenfeld, 397 pp., £25, May 2007, 978 0 297 85068 7
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... the fancy of generations of historians. There was one notable exception among the scholars: Robert Tucker put a dashing young revolutionary – someone who might have stepped out of the Baader-Meinhof Group or the Weathermen – on the cover of Stalin as Revolutionary (1973). But the ‘grey blur’ remained, no doubt partly in reaction against ...

Ways to hate Delacroix, and then Matisse

Robert Irwin: French art, 10 June 1999

The Allure of Empire: Art in the Service of French Imperialism 1798-1836 
by Todd Porterfield.
Princeton, 245 pp., £32.50, March 1999, 0 691 05959 4
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... eagerly into the service of imperialism. Painters worked hard to prepare the way for the conquest of Algeria (which took place from 1830 onwards) and high art glorified the exploitation of the Third World. Paintings by Gros, Delacroix and others served to teach the public about the superiority of the French over lesser breeds. Artists laboured to ...

Bugger me blue

Ian Hamilton, 22 October 1992

The Selected Letters of Philip Larkin 
edited by Anthony Thwaite.
Faber, 759 pp., £20, October 1992, 0 571 15197 3
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... or somebody – some murderer – like that. He had probably misread a communication from Robert (The Great Terror) Conquest. Anyway, it is already pretty clear that one of the chief excitements of this publication will be in finding out who has been dumped on, and how badly. Few well-known names escape the Larkin ...

Will the Empire ever end?

John Lloyd, 27 January 1994

Pandaemonium: Ethnicity in International Politics 
by Daniel Patrick Moynihan.
Oxford, 221 pp., £17.95, March 1993, 0 19 827787 3
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Nations and Politics in the Soviet Successor States 
edited by Ian Bremner and Ray Taras.
Cambridge, 577 pp., £55, December 1993, 0 521 43281 2
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The Post-Soviet Nations 
edited by Alexander Motyl.
Columbia, 322 pp., £23, November 1993, 0 231 07894 3
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The Baltic Revolution: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and the Path to Independence 
by Anatol Lieven.
Yale, 454 pp., £22.50, June 1993, 0 300 05552 8
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... the spark. And there is a new roll of honour containing those – Hélène Carrière d’Encausse, Robert Conquest, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Richard Pipes – who did see the fuse peeping out from the foundations and said as much. Indeed, a whole issue (Spring 1993) of the conservative US journal National Interest was largely devoted to a celebration of the ...

Long Runs

Adam Phillips: A.E. Housman, 18 June 1998

The Poems of A.E. Housman 
edited by Archie Burnett.
Oxford, 580 pp., £80, December 1997, 0 19 812322 1
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The Invention of Love 
by Tom Stoppard.
Faber, 106 pp., £6.99, October 1997, 0 571 19271 8
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... in this edition. Those interested in creative writing may consult ‘Two Housman Torsos’ by Robert Conquest, TLS, 19 Oct. 1973. Those with a taste for highly creative writing should seek out A.E. Housman: New Poems [sic] ed. [sic] by John Edmunds, with a preface and notes by Hilary Bacon (San Francisco, 1985). Every word, bracket and comma here is ...

Rough Wooing

Tom Shippey: Queen Matilda, 17 November 2011

Matilda: Queen of the Conqueror 
by Tracy Borman.
Cape, 297 pp., £20, September 2011, 978 0 224 09055 1
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... instance, it was said that as the daughter of Baldwin V, Count of Flanders, and granddaughter of Robert II ‘the Pious’, King of France, she proudly refused a marriage proposal from William Duke of Normandy, on the grounds that he was illegitimate and she would not demean herself to marry a bastard. At this, the story goes, William rode up from ...

Diary

Alexander Cockburn: ‘West of America’, 11 July 1991

... of the 500th anniversary of Columbus’s voyage to the New World: how much should Europe’s conquest of the Americas, as treated today in exhibitions and commemorations, reflect the experience of the people on the receiving end of the conquest? The ‘West as America’ exhibition made a very decent attempt to suggest ...

1086, 1886, 1986 and all that

John Dodgson, 22 May 1986

Domesday: 900 Years of England’s Norman Heritage 
edited by Kate Allen.
Millbank in association with the National Domesday Committee, 192 pp., £3, March 1986, 0 946171 49 1
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The Normans and the Norman Conquest 
by R. Allen Brown.
Boydell, 259 pp., £19.50, January 1985, 0 85115 427 1
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The Domesday Book: England’s Heritage, Then and Now 
edited by Thomas Hinde.
Hutchinson, 351 pp., £14.95, October 1985, 0 09 161830 4
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Domesday Heritage 
edited by Elizabeth Hallam.
Arrow, 95 pp., £3.95, February 1986, 0 09 945800 4
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Domesday Book through Nine Centuries 
by Elizabeth Hallam.
Thames and Hudson, 224 pp., £12.50, March 1986, 0 500 25097 9
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Domesday Book: A Reassessment 
edited by Peter Sawyer.
Arnold, 182 pp., £25, October 1985, 0 7131 6440 9
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... in 1066, conveniently ominous for the tapestry’s mendacious propaganda on behalf of the Norman Conquest. 1986 sees another remarkable periodic manifestation: this year is the 900th anniversary of Domesday Book, and centennial celebrations are in progress. Domesday Book consists of two volumes compiled in 1086: a parchment folio, Great Domesday Book, and a ...

The West dishes it out

Patrick Wormald, 24 February 1994

The Making of Europe: Conquest, Colonisation and Cultural Change 950-1350 
by Robert Bartlett.
Allen Lane, 432 pp., £22.50, May 1993, 0 7139 9074 0
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... most fateful hallmark lies not in 1492 but in that period from 950 to 1350 which is the subject of Robert Bartlett’s remarkable book. Bartlett has written an absorbing account of how a common culture emerged throughout what now regards itself as Europe. His subject is the central Middle Ages, because it was then that Europe assumed its present shape. Between ...

Alas! Deceived

Alan Bennett: Philip Larkin, 25 March 1993

Philip Larkin: A Writer’s Life 
by Andrew Motion.
Faber, 570 pp., £20, April 1993, 0 571 15174 4
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... too. He found that he shared his interest in dirty books with ‘the sensitive and worldly-wise’ Robert Conquest and together they went on expeditions, trawling the specialist shops for their respective bag in a partnership that seems both carefree and innocent. Unusual, too, as I had always thought that porn, looking for it and looking at it, was ...

It took a Scot

Colin Kidd: English Nationalism, 30 July 2015

The Formation of the English Kingdom in the Tenth Century 
by George Molyneaux.
Oxford, 302 pp., £65, May 2015, 978 0 19 871791 1
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The English and Their History 
by Robert Tombs.
Allen Lane, 1012 pp., £14.99, June 2015, 978 0 14 103165 1
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Conquests, Catastrophe and Recovery: Britain and Ireland 1066-1485 
by John Gillingham.
Vintage, 345 pp., £10.99, October 2014, 978 0 09 956324 2
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From Restoration to Reform: The British Isles 1660-1832 
by Jonathan Clark.
Vintage, 364 pp., £10.99, October 2014, 978 0 09 956323 5
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Britain since 1900: A Success Story? 
by Robert Skidelsky.
Vintage, 472 pp., £10.99, October 2014, 978 0 09 957239 8
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... as being in the territory of the English. England has never existed in isolation. According to Robert Tombs, it has existed as itself only for a couple of relatively brief periods in its long history, ‘between Alfred and Cnut, and again (though by then including Wales) under the Tudors’. It has more often existed as part of a larger multinational state ...

Is this successful management?

R.W. Johnson, 20 April 1989

One of Us: A Biography of Margaret Thatcher 
by Hugo Young.
Macmillan, 570 pp., £16.95, April 1989, 0 333 34439 1
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... made them oddities in the Tory camp, émigrés from Britain like Alan Walters, Ian MacGregor and Robert Conquest. Her Jewish Cabinet members were by definition marginal men within the Tory Party – which had the useful extra twist that they would be properly grateful for their preferment and in all likelihood would never become rivals for the ...

A Kind of Greek

Jeremy Harding: Frank Thompson, 7 March 2013

A Very English Hero: The Making of Frank Thompson 
by Peter Conradi.
Bloomsbury, 419 pp., £18.99, August 2012, 978 1 4088 0243 4
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... and a vigorous force on the folk music scene.) In 1935, the year of the general election, Robert Conquest stood as the Communist candidate in the mock election at Winchester and Frank deputised for him during the campaign. Some of the teachers were happy to see the boys thinking along these lines – or thinking at all about the drastic turn that ...

Leo’s Silences

Robert Irwin: The travels of Leo Africanus, 8 February 2007

Trickster Travels: A 16th-Century Muslim between Worlds 
by Natalie Zemon Davis.
Faber, 448 pp., £20, January 2007, 978 0 571 20256 0
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... buildings, walls and dwellings ruined and populations slaughtered in war, whether during the Arab conquest of Christian Carthage, the Kharijite Berbers’ revolts in the name of Islam against the caliphs, the struggles between Almohad sultans and upcoming Marinids, or the Portuguese seizure of Morocco’s coastal towns. Ruins and depopulated towns, as he ...

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